Please Don’t Transport Firewood

Please Don’t Transport Firewood

I am an avid camper. I am a nature lover and consider myself a conscientious camper.

It was hard for me to accept, since I only burn deadfall, and firewood that I buy near my campsite, that my evening campfire could be destroying Michigan’s forests. But, I was guilty of taking firewood from home on some of my camping trips, and taking leftover firewood home with me after my camping trips. firewood I had to face the fact that I was part of the problem.

I have learned that when we transport wood, we can inadvertently be transporting invasive insects and diseases that can kill our native trees. Hidden within the firewood there can be eggs and larvae. When the eggs hatch at the new location the insects will attack the trees in that area.em ash tree damage

One of the invasive species, is the Emerald Ash Borer, believed to have come from Asia in shipping crates.em ash art This pest has caused destruction to the native ash trees throughout Michigan. As many as 10 million trees have been affected. Seventy thousand trees in the Detroit area have been lost.em ash tree damage 2 Emerald Ash Borers have now been confirmed in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio , and Ontario.

Quarantines have been established in Michigan to try to slow the spread of the infestation.dont move wood It is illegal to transport any deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) from the quarantined area. You cannot bring any ash firewood into any state park, state forest, forest campground, or recreation area.

It is illegal to move hardwood firewood out of Michigan. Any hardwood firewood being bought over the Mackinac bridge is confiscated.

To limit the spread of the Emerald Ash borerem ash borer 2, Federal quarantines restricting the transport of ash wood from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota,  New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have now been established.em ash regions

The province of Ontario, as well as other states, are trying to limit the spread of all insect pests known to live in firewood by placing regulations or bans on moving any firewood.

Although the Emerald Ash Borer is the biggest threat to Michigan’s forests, Oak Wilt, Beech Bark disease, Dutch Elm disease, and Gypsy Moths are causing major damage, and are also being spread by transported firewood.

 http://don’ says: “Burn it where you buy it.”burn it where you buy it

Use only locally cut firewood. Never use wood that was cut more than 50 miles away, or at least within the county.  It is even better if you can burn wood that was cut less than 10 miles away. If you must use wood that is not from  your area, use wood with a USDA APHIS seal, indicating that the wood has been heat treated to kill and insects.

If you are not sure where to get firewood in your camping area, visit

Join me in taking measures to save our forests for the generations to come. It’s not that hard to do.

Don’t transport firewood!

Happy Camping,





“It is not so much for it’s beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Swimmer’s Itch

Swimmer’s Itch

Imagine your horror, after spending a lazy summer day at the beach, playing in the shallow water with your family, and you end up looking like this:


 This is what Swimmer’s itch looks like.

I had never even heard of swimmer’s itch until a few years ago.

While planning a camping trip to S. Higgins Lake State Park, I read in the park reviews that people were reporting that they were  infected with swimmer’s itch after being in the lake.Coolpix 296

Swimmer’s itch is cercarial dermatitis. It is caused by an allergic reaction to group of flatworm parasites that burrow into the skin.

The parasites are introduced into the water by water fowl, and animals that live near the water such as muskrats and raccoons. Coolpix 297

The eggs of the parasites are passed into the water through the feces of the birds or animals. When the eggs hatch in the water, the larvae infect aquatic snails. The snails then release  microscopic cercaria. The cercaria  swim to the surface of the water. If humans are swimming in the water, the cercaria will burrow into the skin of the humans.

swimitch cycle

Fortunately, humans are not suitable hosts for the cercaria, and the parasite soon dies, but not before causing an allergic reaction. An infected person may notice symptoms which include:

  • itchy skin
  • a burning sensation
  • red pimples
  • blisters

The discomfort caused by the allergic reaction is short lived. It is usually gone within a week. The symptoms can be eased by using:

  • antihistamine
  • bathing in baking soda or Epsom salts
  • applying oatmeal paste
  • anti-itch lotion

As hard as it is, scratching the rash is strongly discouraged. Scratching may cause the skin to brake, and become infected.

Swimmer’s itch can be avoided in the following ways:

  • Do not swim or wade in brackish water or marshy areas.
  • Do not swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem.
  • Don’t feed water fowl. This encourages them to come into swimming areas. (I am adamant about not feeding wild animals. See my post:  Close Encounters Of The Wild Kind)
  • Always shower after swimming or dry vigorously with a towel.

After learning what I could do to help my family avoid swimmer’s itch, I made the decision to go ahead with our plans to camp at S. Higgins Lake State Park.

We had a very nice weekend. The kids  enjoyed swimming in beautiful Higgins Lake.  I made sure that they showered right after swimming, and we didn’t experience any  outbreaks of swimmer’s itch.

By reading the reviews of the campground, I learned of a potential problem. I was able to do research, and make an educated decision whether  or not to camp, and swim at this park.

When looking for a campsite, I encourage everyone to read the reviews left by previous campers. When we leave responsible reviews of the campgrounds that we visit, we are aiding future campers to choose the right campground for their family’s next adventure.

Happy Camping,


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“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.”

                                       Augustus Hare